Rann of Kutch: This famous White Desert will make you fall in love with Vibrant Gujarat

Rann of Kutch

Vibrant colorful clothes, soulful songs and ballads, serene white desert and homely hospitality, this is what defines one of the most beautiful place in India’s western region: Rann of Kutch!

Kutch is a melodious union of rich culture, tradition and history. It is an island which changes according to seasons. Come dry season the deserts are the harshest and with the arrival of  monsoons, they get filled by the waters and invite a lot of fauna. Experiencing the Rann of Kutch on a full moon night is just pure bliss. Rann of Kutch does not only have an arid desert but it also has some best culture of hospitality and homeliness. Delicious food, mind blowing artefacts and intricately designed clothes, this is just the place for a travel freak.

The Lavish Tents at the Rann Utsav
The Lavish Tents at the Rann Utsav
Image Source: www.gujarattourism.com

Let’s have a look what this tortoise-shaped land has in store for the wanderer.

Quick Facts about Rann of Kutch

  • Kutch is the largest district of India
  • Kutch has the ruins of the Indus Valley Civilization city in Dholavira
  • The place called Kalo Dungar is the highest point of Kutch.
  • Kutch has a white desert called the Great Rann of Kutch near the Dhordo Village.
  • The Dhordo village is also called as the Tent City as the home stays there are Tents and Bhongas.

Reasons to Visit Rann of Kutch

1. The Beautiful Rann Utsav celebrating the White Desert

It’s enchanting to see how a salt marshland can turn into a field of activity and entertainment. That’s Rann Utsav for you.

The White Desert
The White Desert
Image Source: Flickr, by Gunjan Vaishnav

What is the Rann Utsav

Rann Utsav is where culture, tradition, history and celebration come together. A carnival of dance and music, Rann Utsav celebrates the pomposity of the vibrant land of Kutch.

White Rann of Kutch
Image Source: Gujarat Tourism

Where is the Rann Utsav held ?

The desert is a seasonal salt marshland which is situated exactly in the heart of the Thar Desert. On one side is Gujarat and on the other you will see the Sind province of Pakistan. The Rann Utsav is held in the village of Dhordo which is the base for the festival homestays.

Things you should not miss at the Rann Utsav

You should definitely stay in the tents in this salt desert which are quite luxurious. It is a worthwhile experience to live in tents and the traditional Bhongas.

The Bhonga Style Tent at the Rann Utsav
The Bhonga Style Tent at the Rann Utsav
Image Source: Flickr, by Rann Utsav
The Tents at the Rann Utsav
The Tents at the Rann Utsav
Image Source: www.gujarattourism.com

 

The celebration offers a host of activities which can be experienced. From ATV rides to desert safaris to Paramotoring, it’s a mix of adventure and thrill.

Paramotoring at Rann Utsav
Paramotoring at Rann Utsav
Image Source: www.rannutsavonline.com

One thing you should not miss doing is having a walk through the stalls selling arts and crafts. The minute work and artistry will just blow your mind away and obviously if you like anything, you can buy it too.

And if you are up for star gazing then what better place than a White Desert? #EnoughSaid

Star Gazing at White Desert
Star Gazing at White Desert
Image Source: www.gujarattourism.com

2. Handcrafted feel to everything

Kutch is all about making things from scratch. The people of Kutch are hardworking and creative. All of this is evident when you take a look at their craftsmanship. The Embroidery which is not just on sarees or dress materials but also on bed sheets, the mirror work on clothes, terracotta, Patchwork, the art of pen knives and nut crackers, all this sums up the treasure of tradition passed on from generation to generations.

The intricate mirror work and embroidery
The intricate mirror work and embroidery
Image Source: Flickr, By Rann Utsav

The Handblock Paintings, Mudwall Paintings, wooden carvings there is so much to explore which gives you a taste of the traditional, ethnic culture of Rann of Kutch.

A traditional Gujarati artwork with mirror work on mud
A traditional Gujarati artwork with mirror work on mud
Image Source: Pinterest, By Monika Jhamnani

3. Exposure to the migratory flora and fauna

Though the majority of the land is a desert, there is no dearth of flora and fauna in Rann of Kutch. Infact Rann of Kutch sees some of the most eccentric migratory birds. The abundance of wildlife is just worth knowing. Rann of Kutch has the only Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary. This salt desert is also the hub for the breeding of Flamingos. You will also find creatures like the Jackal, Chinkaras, Nilgai, Wolf, Blackbuck, and Striped Hyena.

The Indian desert fox
The Indian desert fox
Image Source: Saveus.in, by ABINASH DHAL

Kutch also has the Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary which is home to the Critically Endangered Great Indian Bustard.

Great Indian Bustards
Great Indian Bustards
Image Source: Saevus.in, by NITIN VYAS

4. Explore the Little Rann of Kutch

The Great Rann of Kutch is talked about extensively. But there is no mention of how beautiful the other part of the Rann is. Little Rann of Kutch is the center for the extensive wildlife of Kutch and is also termed as the largest wildlife sanctuary of India. It comprises of salt pans, lakes, swamps, grasslands. When there is so much diversity in the topography one can imagine the diversity of wildlife.

The Flamingoes at Little Rann of Kutch
The Flamingoes at Little Rann of Kutch
Image source: Saevus.in, by DILIPSINH CHUDASAMA

Here, at Little Rann of Kutch you will find the Wild Asses in abundance. It is the only place where these animals thrive. It is also a favourite place of the Flamingoes. Near the water bodies you will also find Pelicans and Cranes. Just pack your bags and set out to this wildlife haven on earth.

The Indian Wild Ass
The Indian Wild Ass
Image Source: Saevus.in, by DR DHARMESH B PATEL

Little Rann of Kutch is closest from Ahmedabad at 124 km.

5. Shopping

Kutch is a shopper’s paradise. From the globally famous Bandhanis to the traditional Jholas, Kutch has spell bounding amount of stuff to buy. There are two famous places where you can go shopping in Kutch. One is Bhuj and other is Mandvi. The stuff that you can buy are traditional silver tribal jewellery, Bandhani sarees and dress materials, Mirror work Chaniya Cholis, Dupattas, Kurtas, Jholas, Sling Bags with embroidery, Traditional hand bags, thread work clutches, Mojidis (Also known as Jutis) et cetera. Wood craft items are also sold a lot. Make sure you bargain as much as possible when roadside shopping.

6. Food

Kutch is synonymous with the Kutchi Dabeli. An assortment of peanuts, chopped onions, chutneys in the mixture of spicy mashed potatoes, all stuffed nicely in a bread bun, this is a delicious fast food you can bank upon anywhere in Kutch.

The Mashed Potato Filling of Dabeli garnished with a lot of stuff
The Mashed Potato Filling of Dabeli garnished with a lot of stuff
Image Source: Hitchy’s World – WordPress.com
The Popular Snack Dabeli
The Popular Snack Dabeli
Image Source: Instagram, by indian_foodiye

The Gujarati Thali is worth exploring too. But to experience the rich traditional cuisine of Kutch, winters is the best time. The Bajra Rotla, Khichdi, Curry and Papad is the staple diet in winters. One interesting dish you should try is Kadak. It is just like a chat dish of Mumbai but with a twist of Gujarat in it. Next up is the amazing Undhiyo which is the most famous cuisine of Gujarat. One thing you will find in abundance everywhere is Butter Milk. Chaas is an important part of the diet of the Kutchis and it tastes yumm! With so much food to explore you will never go hungry in Kutch for sure.

Places to See in Rann of Kutch

1. Bhuj

Almost destroyed in the 2001 earthquake and successfully resurrected, Bhuj is a treasure trove of history. With remnants of one of the greatest city dwellers,the Harappans, this capital city of Kutch also has a history of leaders like Alexander the Great. There are many places which take you back in history. The Aina Mahal and the Prag Mahal are the royal sides of the city.  The Aina Mahal, literally meaning the Mirror palace is a testimony to the king’s obsession with European way of architecture. The Prag Mahal is the location of many scenes of the famous film Lagaan. The Hamirsar lake is a man made lake and is a mind blowing beauty. You might get lucky to find migratory birds coming for a drink there. For museum lovers there is the Kutch Museum opposite the Hamirsar Lake showcasing all of Kutch in grandeur.

The Aina Mahal
The Aina Mahal
Image Source; blog.travelyaari.com
Hamirsar lake, Bhuj
Hamirsar lake, Bhuj
Image Source: www.bhujonline.in

2. Lakhpat

The beauty of this village of ruins cannot be described in words. Shattered in the 1819 earthquake, the river which used to give life to this village , changed its course. And since then this once richest village of Kutch has been an empty place. Lakhpat has very few families residing in the village, yet there is so much to see even in these ruins. In Lakhpat you will find a temple, a masjid and a gurudwara. Such diversity in itself attracts a traveller.

The Lakhpat Fort Entrance
The Lakhpat Fort Entrance
Image SOurce:
The fort walls
The fort walls
PC: Flickriver

It is believed that Lakhpat once produced 1,00,000 koris a day only through maritime activities. Hence it got its name, Lakhpat. The long polygon fort walls give an eerie feeling to the whole village.

Koris is the currency which was in use in maritime activities in the early days in Kutch

3. Kalo Dungar

As Kutch is both a wet and dry place, Kalo Dungar comes under the non-coastal section. This is a very peculiar place and should definitely be on your list. The Kalo Dungar, 90 km from Bhuj is the highest point of Kutch. At a height of 462m all you see is the great desert which at one point looks as if it’s touching the sky. Also known as The Black hills, the road to the top is exciting with its sharp turns.

panorama from kalo Dungar
Panorama from kalo Dungar
PC: Sweta K Bhanushali

There is one thing which has made Kalo Dungar famous and that is because of its magnetic field. The magnetic field around Kalo Dungar is so strong that cars move even with their engines off. Don’t believe it? Go there and experience it.

Tip: Finding public transport is difficult. The best option is to hire a private vehicle.

4. Chari Dhand Wetland Conservation Reserve

Visit this place and be surprised. The flock of pink flamingoes flipping in the water is a sight to behold. It is still a place less visited and so has a calm feel to it. Chari Dhand is a birding spot and it is advised to go there with an expert birder and a guide. For wildlife enthusiasts this place is home.

The beautiful Flamingoes at the Little Rann of Kutch
The beautiful Flamingoes at the Chari Dhand in Little Rann of Kutch
Image Source: Saevus.in, by SANDEEP KAMBOJ

5. Than Monastery-Dinodhar Hills

The Dinodhar hills is an extinct volcano. At the base of the hills is where you will come across the Than Monastery built by Baba Dhoramnath. The legend goes that guilty of destroying Mandvi, Dhoramnath repented by standing on his head for 12 years. So much so that the Gods had to intervene to make him stop the penance. It is said that Dhoramnath agreed on a condition that wherever he sets his sight first, the place will go barren. And so he looked North and Rann of Kutch was born. He built the Than Monastery and also gave birth to the Kanphata way of monastic life. Kanphata literally means slit-ears.

Than Monastery at the foot of Dinodhar Hills
Than Monastery at the foot of Dinodhar Hills
Image Source: IndiaMike.com

6. Dholavira

Dholavira is an important archeological site. It is an evidence to the most brilliant civilization this world has ever witnessed. Excavated in 1990, other than the city itself, many exciting things have been found. Stuff like terracotta ornaments, pottery, gold-silver coins, beads, animal bones etc dating back to the civilization have been found. Dholavira is also called ‘Kotada Timba’ locally. At Dholavira the world’s earliest water conservation systems were excavated. This is evidence of how the people thrived in such an arid land.

The ancient Harappan City at Dholavira
The ancient Harappan City at Dholavira
Image Source: www.gujarattourism.com

Dholavira is 250 kms from Bhuj and there is just one bus which plys to Dholavira and back. You can hire a private vehicle.

7. Mandvi Beach

Your visit to a desert can bring you surprises too. How refreshing it feels to fall upon a beach on your trip to a desert. Mandvi is a beach in the Kutch district and a visit to this beach is just serenity. One thing which is peculiar is that you reach the beach and you are welcomed with high towering windmills. It is a refreshing sight with the sun setting down, the waves touching your feet and the windmills running in the wind. Ready to go right?

Sunset at Mandvi beach
Sunset at Mandvi beach
Image Source: Flickr, by Balaji Shastri

Best Time to Visit Rann of Kutch

November- February

In these months the climate of Kutch is soothing. The Rann Utsav starts from November and goes on till February. This is also the perfect time when you can witness all the wildlife of Kutch.

How to Reach Rann of Kutch

Air

Bhuj airport is the nearest airport. There are daily flights plying to Bhuj from Mumbai. From there you can hire public transport to reach Kutch.

Train

Sayaji Express and Kutch express are two trains which go till Bhuj. It is a wonderful and comfortable experience to travel by train. This is the cheapest option too.

Road

Highway Nh8 will connect you to the closest cities to Kutch.

Book your tickets or ramp up your car and set out to this colourful white desert. Do let us know about your experiences in the comments section below.

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Sweta K Bhanushali

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